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What You Need to Know About TMJ Disorder

May 3rd, 2019

Across America there are millions that are suffering from chronic facial and neck pain, in addition to headaches. What most of them don’t know is that it could be caused by Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD.

What is the Temporomandibular Joint?

The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is what connects the lower jawbone (mandible) to the skull, and is constantly in use throughout the day. It is unique to other joints in the body because it has a hinge and sliding motion, and the tissues attached also differ from other joints in the body. These features, with the high degree of movement, make the TMJ very complex and hard to repair for doctors when something goes wrong with it.

Dealing with TMJ Discomfort

Many people have discomfort in various joints of their body, so when they feel it in their jaw, they don’t think much of it and just try to live with it, either ignoring or managing with NSAIDs or other medicines. Sometimes the discomfort comes in cycles or just goes away after short periods of time. If the discomfort is constant, or grows into a significant long-term issue though, a dentist or orthodontist should be consulted in case it is TMD.

If you are suffering from possible symptoms of TMD, you may be wondering what you can do about it, how to properly diagnose it, and how to treat the disorder. TMD is a relatively new disorder, so there are still a lot of questions needing to be answered by researchers, but one key thing is that you should avoid any procedures that can cause permanent changes in your bite or jaw, as they could make things worse.

Causes of TMJ Disorder

The cause of TMD is still being heavily researched, it can sometimes be caused by trauma to the jaw, but there are just so many possibilities and scientists haven’t been able to narrow down the general cause. The condition is statistically more prevalent in women compared to men. Most often TMD starts without any obvious reason; research disputes the cause being related to bad bite, orthodontic braces, or jaw noises.

TMJ Disorder Symptoms

The symptoms of TMD can include:

● Jaw muscle stiffness,

● Jaw movement limitations, or locking

● Painful clicking, or other noises in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth,

● Change in jaw alignment

● Radiating pain in the face, jaw or neck.

TMJ Disorder Diagnosis

There is no current TMD standard test, so health care providers will take note of all symptoms, including dental and medical history, or do imaging studies to determine whether or not you could have TMD. Often ruling out other symptoms will help narrow the diagnosis down to TMD.

TMJ Disorder Treatment

There is no widely accepted safe or effective treatment of TMD at the moment. If you do have TMD, make sure that any treatments that are attempted are non-permanent, as permanent surgeries could cause long-term disability. There are many things you can do at home to reduce the effects of TMD, such as: eating soft food, using ice packs, minimize extreme jaw movements, relaxation techniques, and jaw exercises. If the pain is an issue, you can use over-the-counter NSAIDS such as ibuprofen to manage the pain, and if it gets to be too much you can request stronger medication from your healthcare provider. Stabilization splints may be recommended but they should only be used for short lengths of time to avoid permanent changes in your bite.

Are You Suffering from the Possible Signs of TMD?

If you are dealing with jaw pain and headaches or other symptoms of TMD, book an appointment with McLean Healthy Smiles today to get checked out.

The Importance of Dental Mouthguards for Athletes

March 26th, 2019

Your smile is often the first thing a person will notice about you. It can also say a lot about you, which is why it is important to keep your mouth and teeth safe during riskier activities. And there is perhaps no riskier activity than sports, which is why many people choose to use a mouthguard while playing. Regardless of the activity, a mouthguard is incredibly important for athletes, and many local sports enthusiasts choose to purchase a dental mouthguard in McLean, VA.

If you are an athlete, or the parent of an athlete, considering a dental mouthguard in McLean, VA, here are a few reasons why you may need one.

1. They Can Protect Against Injury

The most obvious and common reason for someone to buy and use a dental mouthguard in McLean, VA is to prevent injury. While our teeth may seem pretty durable, many of the sports we play can knock them loose, make them fall out completely or damage our mouths and jaw in other ways. Giving your mouth some extra protection can be the difference between staying on the field and heading out for emergency dental work.

Luckily, there are plenty of options for anyone looking for a dental mouthguard in McLean, VA, including custom fitted mouthguards. These products can help keep your mouth safe during many activities, but especially in contact sports like football or hockey.

2. They Can Help in the Healing Process

When someone’s jaw or teeth are damaged in an accident, especially a sporting accident, the recovery can be long and delicate. Getting back out on the field, however, usually comes much sooner. That is why many athletes choose to use a mouthguard to help with the healing process. When you have a dental mouthguard in McLean, VA, you can make sure that your mouth is protected from injury while it heals, and get back to playing much sooner.

3. They Can Protect Braces

Every parent knows that dental work and orthodontics for children are expensive. Even something as simple as an emergency repair for braces can be a big expense, which is why many people choose to buy their child a dental mouthguard in McLean, VA. The right dental mouthguard can actually fit over a child’s braces and help keep them safe while they are playing. These mouthguards can help adults with braces, too, with specialized designs that fit over the braces and protect them from potential impacts. When it comes to braces, the best choice is preventative action: have a mouthguard so you won’t have to pay more for repairs.

At McLean Healthy Smiles, we offer a wide range of dental services that can give you a great smile and protect your mouth and teeth from injury, especially if you love to play sports. These activities can come with extra risk, which is why it is important. If you are looking for a dental mouthguard in McLean, VA, come to McLean Healthy Smiles to learn more about how they can help you or a family member stay safe and keep their fantastic smile.

Periodontal Disease

March 25th, 2019

Have you ever wondered why your dentist is always adamant about you doing more than just brushing when it comes to your dental hygiene? Nearly a majority of adult Americans have some form of periodontal disease. The early stage of periodontal disease is most commonly called gingivitis, and it is characterized by the swelling of the gum line, and bleeding when irritated. The later stage is called periodontitis, and causes the gum line to pull away from the teeth, eventually causing bone or tooth loss. With a proper dental care regime, the more severe effects of periodontal disease can be stopped.

Causes of Periodontal Disease

The core cause of periodontal disease is bacteria building up in the mouth and infecting the tissue surrounding the teeth. As the bacteria build up, they start to inflame the gums, but also they start to deposit plaque on teeth, which is a thin film. As plaque hardens, it becomes tartar (or calculus), which can spread below the gum line, becoming harder to clean off. Once tartar has taken hold, only a dental health professional is going to be able to remove it properly.


There are many symptoms when it comes to periodontal disease, including the following:

● Bad breath that doesn’t go away

● Red or swollen gums

● Bleeding or tender gum

● Painful chewing

● Sensitive teeth

● Loose teeth

● Receding gum line, making teeth appear longer

● Teeth no longer aligning properly

Partial dentures no longer fitting properly

Who is Most at Risk for Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease generally doesn’t appear in most adults until they are in their 30’s or 40’s. Younger teenagers may have the start of gingivitis though, so should be taught to keep up a good dental hygiene regime to stop any further progress of the disease. There are several activities, body changes or other things that can cause an increased risk of periodontal disease, such as the following:

● Smoking

● Hormonal changes

● Diabetes

● Poor oral hygiene

● Crooked teeth

● Stress

● Heredity

● Immunodeficiencies (such as AIDS)

● Medications

● Malfunctioning dental procedures (bridges, fillings, etc.)

Treating Periodontal Disease

The best treatment for periodontal disease is preventative. Preventing the buildup of bacteria can completely stop the progress of periodontal disease before it becomes more serious and damaging. Cleaning your teeth twice a day with a Fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing and yearly visits to the dentist for a checkup and deep dental cleaning.

For more severe cases of periodontitis, you’ll be referred to a periodontist for diagnosis and treatment of your periodontal disease. They will decide the best way to go forward with treatment for your case, but good daily hygiene will be key to complete treatment. Deep cleaning, called scaling and root planing is often performed to remove any tartar from the teeth above and below the gum line, then removing rough spots on the tooth root where bacteria can latch on and build up. Medications can also be used in the treatment, but surgery may be the only option to completely combat the disease. Flap surgery may be needed to clean deep pocket tartar and suture the gums back into the place. Further surgery may include bone and tissue grafts to help regenerate lost bone or gum tissue.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

When it comes to dealing with periodontal disease, prevention is always best, so contact McLean Healthy Smiles today to book a dental appointment.

Things You Should Look for in a Dentist

March 23rd, 2019

If you have recently moved, whether it is to a new city or country, it’s important that you find a new dentist. However, if you fall under the estimated seventy five percent of adults in the United States who are scared of the dentist, this isn’t an easy task. Our oral health plays a critical component towards our overall physical and mental wellbeing, so it’s no wonder that the thought of someone probing around our mouth with sharp tools makes us a little, or extremely nervous. But ignoring the dentist can lead to chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and strokes. We’re here to help calm your anxiety and guide you through the process of finding your next dentist in McLean, with these four helpful tips!

1. Customer Service Matters

Regardless of whether or not the thought of going to the dentist in McLean fills your heart with dread, it probably isn’t high up on your list of favorite activities. While the treatment portion of your trip might not be pleasant, a root canal will never be fun, that doesn’t mean the staff can’t be nice. The customer service you receive when booking and waiting for an appointment has a big impact on whether or not a particular dentist is right for you. Choose an office that offers a streamlined process for booking appointments with friendly and responsive staff. Don’t be afraid to interview a potential dentist to learn more about them and their practice.

2. Do They Offer Emergency Services?

Accidents happen and that includes dental emergencies. Choosing a dentist in McLean that offers emergency services is important, especially if you have children and/or seniors in your care. Having access to extended hour clinics outside of regular office hours ensures dental emergencies can be resolved quickly. Want to avoid serious health ailments and large expenses? Don’t let a dental accident turn into a long-standing oral health problem.

3. You Should Feel Comfortable and Safe

One of the best ways to judge any service in today’s modern world is by reading customer reviews and asking your personal network for recommendations. No one knows a dentist in McLean better than their patients, so why not go directly to the source when you are searching for your perfect match? A dentist should make you feel comfortable and safe while also educating you on the treatment and your oral health. If a particular dentist office has an air of hostility, rudeness, or unprofessionalism, you can be certain that people will be talking about it!

4. Is Everything Clean and Up to Date?

Just like we expect hospitals and doctor’s offices to be clean and modern, the same goes for our dentist’s office. If the waiting area is clean and bright with a fresh stock of magazines and toys, chances are the same can be said for the equipment and service. Over the last century, dentistry has seen quite an advancement in regard to technology and services. A good dentist in McLean will want to stay up to date with the latest practices and gadgets. They will also invest in continuing education so they can expand their knowledge as research uncovers more and more about our oral health.